PA Sends Mixed Messages

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RAMALLAH - Following a Thursday evening announcement by the Palestinian Authority to delay endorsing the controversial Goldstone Report, senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat denied that any such decision had been made.

The Goldstone Report accuses Israel of "actions amounting to war crimes against humanity" in its three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip last winter.

"We are not members of the [UN] Human Rights Council," Erekat told reporters Friday morning. "We are there as observers. The council of Islamic states is working to have the body adopt the report. The decision stands, and this report is untrue. There has been no change in our position," the PA's top negotiator said.

A decision to endorse the report in Geneva would have paved the way for the UN Security Council to recommend that Israelis be brought before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

But Thursday evening, the PA decided to defer its endorsement of the report until March.

An unnamed senior U.S. diplomat told The Associated Press the PA's decision followed "intense diplomacy" by Washington on the harm it would do to the peace process.

Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also played a key role in the decision.

"Israel insisted from the beginning that this was about politics against the State of Israel and not [about] human rights. It emphasized the primacy of the peace process. It is a precedent for all states fighting terror," Leshno-Yaar said.

On Thursday, Netanyahu told Cabinet ministers that adoption of the fallacious report would compromise the United Nations itself.

"This type of decision will fully legitimize terror shooting at civilians, as well as gravely compromise the UN's status, bringing it back to its darkest of days and rendering it null and void," the prime minister said.

"The decision whether to promote the report lies in the hands of 50 countries in Geneva, which usually vote against us," Netanyahu said.

At a press conference on Thursday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said UN approval of the Human Rights Council Report would make the HRC "the terror rights council."

"How can this government make further concessions and take risks if it cannot then defend itself when the necessity arises?" Ayalon asked.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news, The Associated Press

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